Tuesday, July 17, 2007


Rule #1: Babies cry when they're hungry.

Right? It's a fairly universal rule. If they start crying, you feed them - they stop. Presto. They're happy again, lying there all satisfied - making those sweet "fat puppy" grunting noises.

Rule #2: Babies will eat when they're hungry.

This is the "calming" advice often handed out by pediatricians and grandparents to freaked out new mothers the world over. And it makes sense. When the baby gets hungry, he/she will eat. That will become his/her sole mission in life -- get to the bottle and chug! Even if it's an "eventually" type situation - where you present the food at feeding time and at first they act disinterested. ...At some point, in the very near future, they will be screaming their little lungs out for that bottle. And they will proceed to suck it down, like they're never gonna get another one. You can count on it!

99.9% of the time, these two rules can be applied to babies across the world, without fail.

And then there's Sophie...

Until a few months ago, she had never EVER expressed an interest in food. Not in any food (even candy, for Pete's sake!). Even as a newborn, she never wanted to eat. She would go hours (many hours) never making a peep, never expressing any signs of hunger. Then when I would take the "this is just crazy!" approach and present her with a bottle, she would turn away and clamp her mouth tightly shut. If I would gently persist, she would then thrash, and kick, and flail, and scream hysterically like a little psychotic banshee, until I would remove the bottle totally from her sight. (Literally. It had to be taken to another room, totally out of view, for her to stop crying.) That's when I was pretty convinced: our adopted newborn baby is actually a pod from another planet.

Testing was done. Reflux was diagnosed. Prevacid was prescribed. The pain and constant crying stopped (poor little thing!). ...But the weird absence of hunger and aversion to eating remained.

Thank the dear Lord, we finally discovered "sleep-feeding" and got into a schedule of offering her bottles to her only around the times when she was super drowsy and on the brink of sleep. We did this until she was one, when she weaned herself from the bottle. She basically got to the point where she was "on to us". She would sit for hours (literally hours), clearly exhausted, clearly in need of sleep, and she would flat-out refuse to fall asleep. She would lie in my arms, about to just pass out from tiredness -- one eye open, staring at me...refusing to eat. (Master of the Obvious moment coming...) The child is unbelievably stubborn. And despite the fact that I am just as stubborn (oh, yes, indeedy!), when it came to this battle, we got to the point where I conceded and she was declared the winner. That's when we discovered syringing, to avoid having a g-tube placed. After going through a million different kinds, we finally found a syringe with an extended tip on the end. That tip saved us. It could be inserted into the side of her mouth, even with her jaw clenched, and formula could be squirted in. Without her permission, we were able to keep her alive.

She still didn't (doesn't) want to eat. Ever. But she finally got to the point where she understood that she had to. She stopped fighting like a mad cat and accepted her formula during the scheduled times that I set.


So yesterday morning when Sophie woke up and said (first-thing when I walked in her room), "I'm hungry. Let's eat some ice cream!" (What? Huh? Worlds are colliding!), I said, "SURE. Let's eat some ice cream!" Turns out we didn't have any, so I promised Sophie as soon as Daddy got home from work, we would all go to Cold Stone and get some ice cream. All day long she asked me, "Is it time for ice cream?" I would tell her, "Almost!"

We talked about ice cream all day. She told me she was getting "White ice cream. In a cone. All for myself. I get to hold it all by myself, right, Mama?" I said, "You got it, Sophs. Sure thing. No problem!" And we anxiously awaited Daddy's arrival home. For awhile, a blissfully looong period of time, actually, Sophie stood by the window waiting.

When Russell got home, I informed him, "Sophie asked for some ice cream." He immediately said, "Well, then let's go!" When we arrived at Cold Stone, it was like we'd just stepped through the gates of Disney World. Sophie's eyes were huge - taking in all of the colors around her. M&Ms, gummy worms, Snicker bits, Oreo cookie chunks, Heath bar pieces, gumballs, and rainbow sprinkles in jars...everywhere! "Oh, I need some of those...and those...and those!", she said, pointing to pretty much everything. We told her, "Pick one." So, of course, she picked the brightest and most beautiful of all ice cream toppings - rainbow sprinkles.

When we paid for our cones, we put a tip in the jar. And as is customary at Cold Stone, all of the workers immediately burst into song. LOUD song: "Yay! We got a dollar, let's all holler! Thank you for our tip, we hope you come again..." Sophie's spun around, her mouth gaping open. Her eyes sparkled and she squealed with delight. When they finished singing, she clapped and told them loudly, "Good job, everybody!" They all thought she was a hoot. (Of course, then she wanted to put another dollar in in jar. I let her (yes, we were very popular), and she looked at everybody like, "Oh, boy. Do it again!" - like they were one big Human Jukebox.) Then we sat down to eat (they ate, I took pictures). Sophs ate about a tablespoon of her ice cream, which is great for her! Then she said, "I'm done!" and plunked the whole cone into the trashcan beside her.

Later, in the middle of saying our bedtime prayers, she abruptly sat up and said, "Uh, oh! I need to threw up, Mama!" (At least now we're at the age where she can tell me, rather than just let it launch everywhere out-of-the-blue.) I took her to the bathroom and she stood over the toilet. Waiting. She looked up at me, "It's coming, Mama." I said, "Okay, Sophs. Just let it come." Finally, it did (of course) and she sat there staring down into the bowl, this amazed look on her face.

"Oh, Mama. ...It's beeeeautiful!!"

She pointed. I looked. She was right. Rainbow sprinkles really do add a nice, festive touch.


sarah p said...

oh, i love this story. as much as i hate that you guys are still dealing with this on a daily basis, i love this story. kudos to you for finding the "beauty" and funny moments in it all. and i LOVE reading all of your stories! seriously, love it.

looks like the non-blogger comments are working. nice job!

Val said...

Me too! This story is great. Although I could have done without the description of all the plunder to be found at Cold Stone. We're deprived of it here in the PI. =(

That's great that she got so excited to eat ice cream!

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